Saturday, November 17, 2012

On death and dying

It was a difficult week, but that comes with the territory.

As mentioned in my last post, the State of Ohio took the life of my friend Brett Hartmann this week. He first contacted me in 2005 asking for assistance, claiming wrongful conviction. That's when our organization was called INNOCENT and we were taking cases from all states. More than once I made plans to visit him, and we took steps to try to help. Then I became very ill, and our correspondence faded. What a sickening feeling: to receive word that the government has purposely snuffed the life from the body of a friend.

Things didn't get any better.

My friend James called to inform me that Tommy Holt's wife had died. Tommy is a lifer in the Thumb Correctional Facility of Michigan, and his situation was different than that of many prisoners. His marriage held together despite incarceration. He had been married 48 years; an incredible accomplishment even for someone not in prison. Because he's a lifer, he won't even be permitted to attend his wife's funeral. I spoke with him in person yesterday by telephone, and gave him our love. He's such a nice man, and he's hurting.

The next morning my friend Al emailed me to inform me that Helen Milliken had died. She was the long-time wife of William Milliken, certainly one of the finest governors of the State of Michigan in all of its history. Governor and Mrs. Milliken were dear people, and took me out to lunch one day in Traverse City because they were so supportive of the work of HFP. Governor Bill is alone today, and I'm sad for that. He and his wife had a wonderful life together.

Said the writer of Ecclesiastes: There is a time for everything---a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

This was the weep and mourn week.

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